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Judge's Chambers: Giants push forward with 'great energy' after close losses


EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Judge's Chambers, a weekly interview with Giants coach Joe Judge exclusively for Giants Season Ticket Members:

Q: The Giants are on a run of close games that is unprecedented in team history (the last four games were decided by seven total points). Is there a benefit of playing close games?

Judge: "I don't know if there's a benefit to playing them. You want to play as well as you can to keep yourself in the game and give yourself an opportunity to win it. I think our guys have done a good job of fighting through a lot of situations this year. We have to close out some more games, and that comes down to improving our coaching and execution for 60 minutes. But I would say the one thing that's been constant is regardless of the situation or the results from the previous week, our guys have come in every week and pushed forward with great energy, great urgency, great attention to detail. I have seen this team be very resilient. I've used that word before. But the thing is, they don't get motivated by being close. We work every day to do our absolute best to play for the guy next to us. We have to keep making a few more plays and eliminate some mistakes to get the results we really want."

Q: There are many ways to gauge offensive performance, but you have had your two largest yardage totals in the last two games. In the last four games, you've had three 300-yard games after not having one in the first four games. Is the offense playing more to what your expectations are?

Judge: "I think the entire team is just improving as a whole on a weekly basis. I think it's showing up in the performance on the field in all three phases. I think the offense has done a good job really getting the running game going and making some plays down the field. I think (offensive coordinator) Jason (Garrett) has done a good job of calling the game, really mixing up a lot of things and creating avenues for a lot of our players in the game to make plays and have an impact. Defensively, I think Pat's (Graham, the coordinator) doing a great job building on the packages we have and fitting them with the opponent we and being able to be multiple on a weekly basis. That's something we want to be as a team, and that's really starting to take shape. In the kicking game, T-Mac (coordinator Thomas McGaughey) and (assistant) Tom (Quinn) have done a good job of really getting everybody involved. We have a lot of young players that weren't as involved early in the season that are now core players for us and are making a lot of plays for us on the field. We're starting to see the impact we expected to see when we brought them in here. I'm pleased with the direction of the team. We have to keep on pushing and working hard and eliminate some mistakes to make sure we get the results we need."

Q: Last week, rookie guard Shane Lemieux had to block (Tampa Bay's) Ndamukong Suh. The other rookie on the left side of the line, Andrew Thomas, frequently was up against Jason Pierre-Paul. How helpful is it to their development to block players of that caliber?

Judge: "I think it's big for these guys. You look at some of the guys that Andrew has had to block throughout his first wave of being an NFL player and the learning experience he's had to have and go through and the improvement he's made along the way. He's had to deal with a great amount of adversity and some situations along the way, and I see him respond the right way. But to line up against a guy like JPP, who's very, very talented, right now he's one of the most productive players in the league. He's a sack guy, he's a pressure guy, he's an aggressive player. I thought Andrew held up and did a really nice job working. There are some things we have to correct and keep moving on from, but that's going to be a theme as we keep on going with all players all the time. But I'm pleased with the way he's working, and I'm really pleased with the way he competes. That's the thing, too. You turn the tape on, this guy fights for 60 minutes and I'm really pleased with that. Again, for Shane to go against a guy like Ndamukong Suh, look, this is a very talented, very accomplished, older vet who's seen a number of guys come in front of him. Shane was able to go out there and mix it up a little bit with him. There are some things he has to learn from as well. But the one thing they can look at everyone else across the way as we go through the season and know it's the NFL, they're all good players. But we've seen some of the top-tiered guys, so you can build on that confidence."

Q: You mentioned when you have everybody back, you want to play all three guards and all three tackles. We always hear about the importance of continuity on the offensive line. Is it more important in your opinion to get those rookies experience, even if it's at the expense of the continuity?

Judge: "I don't think it's at the expense of continuity at all. I think if we're moving them on through and being fluid with the spots, those guys will get used to playing next to each other and they end up learning the mannerisms and little details that each guy has that separates him. But they get on the same page. To me, you can make continuity through moving guys in and out. It's important we get all of our guys playing and developing and pushing forward. So yeah, I plan on playing everyone who is at the game."

Q: The other night, Daniel Jones completed 26 passes to nine different players - three wide receivers, three tight ends and three running backs. Does that put more pressure on a defense when you spread the ball around like that because they know they have to cover everybody and anybody can get the ball at any time?

Judge: "Yeah, I think it makes the defense have to be aware they can't zero in and focus on a certain player. I think Daniel is doing a very good job of distributing the ball across the board, and Jason's doing a good job of putting the game plan together with the offensive staff and giving us avenues for different guys to get the ball and make plays. Again, we want to get all of our guys involved, give them all a chance to be productive. They've been doing that the last few games, and I keep seeing improvement on that. I'm pleased with that."

Q: Cam Brown and Carter Coughlin each played four (defensive) snaps the other night, but Carter had a sack. In your opinion, does every little bit of experience help?

Judge: "Absolutely. There's a lot of experience, too, that before you get to the game, the number of snaps you get to take at practice that apply to the game planning and the multiples that he has to deal with. Then when you get to the game, you say it's limited snaps, but he has to be ready for all of the scenarios that he prepared for throughout the week. Just the ability to take the install to the field, be productive when you get onto the grass. It's not his job to decide how many plays he plays. It's his job to be productive on the ones he does, and he's been able to do that."

Q: This week, you brought in a couple of players, (Kenny) Wiggins and (Dante) Pettis. Last week, it was (Jabaal) Sheard and (Trent) Harris. They are not high-profile acquisitions, but can you talk about the constant effort to upgrade the roster, even if it's done under the radar?

Judge: "Through the length of the season, there's some attrition with injuries. Any chance we ever have to help the team or bring a player in we think can add to the team, we're going to look to do that however we have to. I'm glad we got Jabaal in here, I'm glad Trent's here. They both did a good job last week playing. We're getting Wiggins on the grass right now. He had to go through the protocol last week as far as isolating before joining the team. It was good having him on the grass this week and then we'll go forward. But I'm glad these are guys we were able to add to the program."

Q: This week you play a rematch with Washington, the team you beat on Oct. 18. Are there any special challenges or advantages to playing a team twice in four games when that team has only played one other game since you saw them?

Judge: "It's just something that happens throughout the flow of the year. You kind of get used to it. We're going to do the same thing with the Eagles next week. It's going to be a very similar situation in terms of playing them on a short turnaround window. You have two games to watch on Washington from the last time we prepared for them, one of their game plans was for us. Then seeing also how they built on what they did against us going into Dallas. Then what we think may have happened throughout (their) bye week that they may have looked to build on coming into this as well. When you play a team on such a tight turnaround, there's a large element of what did you think going into that last game, but what did they really do? Then you come out and support and be fresh with the ideas of what do we have to do on a quick turnaround to make sure that we can have some adjustments that maybe they don't expect as well. They're doing the same thing that we are right now. There are limited games between our two matchups, but there is enough to look at and see some adjustments."

Q: We spoke last time about how good their defensive front is. Their defense is first in the league against the pass, fourth overall. Was that front every bit as impressive as you thought going into the game?

Judge: "It was, absolutely. They're very, very talented, they're explosive. They got nicked up and banged up a little bit, but these guys play hard. Their front is at the top of the league. These guys are all very, very talented, they play very hard, they're well-coached, they're very productive. You go down to Washington now, you have to be ready because these guys play with a really high motor at home."

Q: They've changed a little bit offensively. (Cornelius) Lucas is now at left tackle. (Running back Antonio) Gibson, we didn't talk about him much, and he and (J.D.) McKissic have become dual threats for them. I don't know if that was true going into your first game. They've had a lot more big plays in the last two games than they had previously. Do you see their offense with (quarterback Kyle) Allen making strides?

Judge: "They've definitely shown a lot of production and have had some explosive plays in games. But we knew last time that both of those backs are very explosive players. With McKissic, they're using him a lot in terms of some receiving roles and putting him in space, where really his strength is making you kind of come get him in space. He's very elusive, he's a tough runner. Gibson is a strong runner. These guys are both very good with yards after contact, so you really have to do a good job tackling these guys, wrapping them up and getting them on the ground. They're very inventive with how they use their pieces and move them around. They can put both of those running backs on the field at the same time and present multiples to you. Then they can change them in and out by series or plays within a series to really make you aware of who's on the field and how they may attack you."

Q: We're midway through the season now. Have you settled into a weekly routine regarding when you meet with the coaching staff? Do you spend time with each of the coordinators and coaches every day?

Judge: "I meet with the coordinators on a daily basis to go over what's going in the next day and how they see the game, how they're planning on calling the game. We share some ideas and some thoughts of how to use our personnel and how maybe you create a play to help our team. We do that on a nightly basis. I meet with the entire staff routinely on a daily basis as well. The one thing that's happened this year is there has been a little bit of a whatever you want to call it, not normal but some short weeks, long weeks, travel weeks and things that have kind of thrown off a normal, regular weekly schedule. We just have to be able to adjust on the fly. Sometimes that leads to, like this week, coming off a Monday game, it's a very quick turnaround. You have to work ahead a good bit to get your game prep ready. But then you turn around after a Monday night game, you jump into Tuesday and before you know it, the players are here on Wednesday practicing. It's a tight turnaround. You have to be organized with it. But that may change some of the normal, weekly routines. But we always make sure we catch up with enough time to make sure we all sit down, we talk, we're all on the same page, offense, defense and special teams, to make sure we understand how the game has to be played."

Q: As the head coach, you have many obligations outside of game plans and practices. This is the first time you've had a daily news conference, which are a little different on Zoom. Is it a necessary evil that's part of the job? Do you enjoy the give and take with the reporters?

Judge: "Actually, I think it's been really good. I think the give and take you referred to has been enjoyable. The only thing that I do wish is what you said about the Zoom. It would be a little bit nicer if we could do it in person, be able to establish a little bit of a rapport and relationships with people. Early on when I got here, we were all able to do that. I remember back at the Combine, you and I got to sit down and talk a few times and when I first got here, and a few of the beat writers. It's a different flow and feel being over Zoom. Obviously, dealing with the majority of the same people on a daily basis, that's been really good as far as having a relationship. But I am anxious in all ways to get these doors opened back up and get all the people back in the building the way it's supposed to be. The media, the fans, everyone involved. But I've enjoyed every step of the process along the way."

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